Skip to content

Tomato Jam

Late summer is a great time for tomatoes- I could basically live off them from mid-August through September. I eat them raw, cook with them, make pasta sauces, gazpacho, and pico de gallo with all of the amazing organic tomatoes I can find at my local farmers market. When I’m not looking to eat tomatoes raw, I always ask farmers if they have tomato seconds- the tomatoes that are overripe, have flaws, or are basically about to become pig food.  These seconds are best used that day, and I usually chop them up for pasta sauces that I freeze for weeknight dinners, or for the middle of winter, when I just need a taste of something ripe and fresh.  I’m not quite ready to give up on summer weather or summer food yet, so this is my favorite thing to make out of tomato seconds around Labor Day, and into September. Call it tomato jam, call it BBQ sauce, or, as particularly picky members of my extended family would call it, “fancy ketchup,” any name you give it, it goes great with anything grilled- ribs, burgers, chicken, chops, even smeared on a hot dog bun! Customize the flavors to your liking – add different herbs, red chili,  fruit (peaches and blueberries work well). This recipe takes a lot of non-active time, but trust me, it’s worth it.


½ Onion, diced fine

2b Tomatoes, cored & chopped

2 Large garlic cloves, finely chopped (approx 1 Tablespoon)

1 Sprig fresh Thyme

3 Fresh Sage leaves

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon brown sugar, Molasses, or Sorghum

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or other vinegar)

2 Tablespoons Bourbon


Add butter & olive oil to a medium saucepan on medium heat, and allow to melt together as you dice up the onion. Add the onion to the pan, as well as a heavy pinch of salt.  Mix to coat onions in salt and butter mixture, cover the pot, and reduce heat to medium-low. 

Caramelize diced onion over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring more frequently. (approx 1 hour total)

After 1 hour, onions should be caramelized. At this point, add garlic and fresh herbs, and increase heat to medium. 

Cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally while you core and chop tomatoes.

Once garlic has cooked, add the tomatoes to the pot with a heavy pinch of salt. Add the brown sugar, bourbon, and vinegar, stirring to combine, and allow to cook uncovered 75-90 mins, stirring occasionally.  Towards the end of the cooking time, taste and add additional vinegar or brown sugar, depending on how sweet the sauce is, and your preference. As the sauce reduces, stir more frequently so it doesn’t burn to the bottom. Once it has reached your desired consistency, remove from heat. 

This timing usually produces a very thick, jam-like consistency, but if you’re looking to baste meat in this sauce, reduce cooking time.

Allow to cool to room temperature, and then store in an air-tight container in the fridge. The jam will last for 2 weeks in the fridge.

Pro Tips:

• Add fruit with the tomatoes, and allow everything to reduce together.

• For a smooth sauce, use a food processor or an immersion blender after the jam has cooled. You might need to add a little water to thin the sauce out.

• You can use any type of vinegar you like, or experiment with different acids- citrus juices work well, as do unexpected ingredients like miso or soy sauce

Share on Social

Back To Top